On Saturday, the atheist monument in Bradford County, Florida was finally unveiled by American Atheists and local atheist leaders. And apparently there are plans for 50 more such monuments, to be proposed wherever there are Ten Commandments monuments on public property around the country. From a press release AA sent out:
American Atheists further announced that the Bradford County Courthouse bench is only the first of many, with an intent to place a total of up to fifty monuments nationwide on government properties where religious monuments currently stand. American Atheists credits an anonymous donor for making this vision possible. The group plans to work with local atheist affiliate organizations nationwide to locate religious monuments and, if necessary, file additional lawsuits in order to place their markers.
This is the idea I have been advocating for the last couple years (and I’m going to sue you, Dave Silverman! Okay, not really. But really glad this is happening). Everywhere there are Ten Commandments monuments, we need to propose a similar monument. I would not replicate this design, however. I would instead come up with a design for a positive statement of humanist principles. But this legal strategy is important because it puts cities and counties in a bind. They can deny the placement of the new monument, which opens them up to an Establishment Clause case because the Ten Commandments monument is government speech, or they can declare a limited public forum and open the courthouse grounds up to all outside groups. That will seriously dilute the message of endorsement. Or they could, I suppose, decide to take down the Ten Commandments monument, which is the best result of all.
Of course, the unveiling ceremony drew protestors:
While celebrating, many members of the audience took turns sitting on the bench in order to have their pictures taken. Because the sealant was still wet from the installation earlier that morning, the bench slipped from the pillar supporting it. No one was injured and the monument will be repaired shortly. A Christian apologist and YouTube personality, Eric Hovind, also climbed atop the pillar and began preaching during the picture-taking despite boos from the crowd.
Again, what was the point? Did they really think someone would see a sign that says “Jesus” and convert on the spot? And of course, you had the neo-Confederate Southern nationalists who want a theocracy there too:
If you don’t like our Christian culture, go back home? We are home, asshole. This is our country too. And “the south” is not a Christian nation; it isn’t a nation at all. You tried to make it one once. Anyone remember how that turned out?